-Aspen's historic May 5, 2009 IRV election audited as single ballots- 5/5/09 Aspen CO held an instant runoff election (IRV) for mayor and 2 council members. Interpreted contents of each ballot, scanned by True Ballot, were publicly released. Open records requests for a CD of image scans were denied. Aspen has been sued to protect records from destruction and to allow inspection of the scanned ballot files. A Court of Appeals ruling holds that unidentifiable ballots are public records.

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Saturday, April 3, 2010

Aspen Daily News and Aspen Times polls regarding Marilyn Marks' transparency suit

Here is the Aspen Times poll as of April 3, 2010:

Which side would you like to see prevail in the ongoing legal wrangling over Aspen’s election ballots?
The city of Aspen  
Marilyn Marks  
Who cares?  
407 votes
 Aspen Daily News poll:

Should the city of Aspen seek to recoup more than $50,000 from Marilyn Marks after her suit against the city was thrown out?

Yes  64% (242 votes)
No   36% (134 votes)
Total votes: 376

Above are the poll results as of April 3 2010. The live poll can be found at this link:  http://www.aspendailynews.com/poll/should-city-aspen-se

As with all such polls this one contains a considerable and dangerous lack of pertinent information but it shows that a non-random sample of Aspen Times and Daily News readers on the web are in favor of charging Marks a huge sum of money.  

The City of Aspen has filed claims against Marilyn Marks for what appears to me to be the highest possible believable price for their legal time and the sum also includes direct costs to defend against a law suit which Marks filed to pursue fulfillment of an open records request.  The open records request pursued a simple public benefit, namely public access to convenient digital copies of anonymous ballots from the May 5 2009 Aspen municipal election. 

The price established in the City's suit is huge considering that the attorneys in question are paid by salary: $385 per hour.  The City is also attempting to charge Marks for $3500, the invoice cost for a several page report written by a professor who would have been an expert witness for the City. The amount comes closer to $71,000 rather than $50,000.

In the instance of a win by the Plaintiff (which remains a possibility if the matter is heard by this court by reconsideration or under an order of the court that hears an appeal), the open records law actually requires the City to pay the costs borne by the Plaintiff.  This is a public policy safeguard designed to prevent the representatives of government from habitually refusing open  records requests. The use of the $385/hr figure by Aspen can only be seen as an attempt to achieve not a "recoup" of costs, but a heavy handed punitive sanction (punishment) against Marilyn Marks for bringing the suit.  If the court agrees to grant the charge, it will represent a substantial profit for the City for defending the case. 

[above is opinion by Harvie Branscomb- as well as the opinions of some collection of anonymous people on the web]

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